Climber who fell from rock face now stable

Wilderness rescue season in full swing for emergency responders

A man who fell nearly nine metres from a cliff at Arbutus Cove over the weekend is now in stable condition, recovering in hospital.

The 20-year-old was believed to be rock climbing along the cove at about 11:30 a.m. on Sunday (June 3) when he slipped from the cliff face to the rocky terrain below.

Capt. Dale Peebles, based at Saanich’s No. 3 fire station near the University of Victoria, was one of the first on the scene, along with the B.C. Ambulance Service. A witness led the crew down a steep embankment off of Gordon Head Road to what Peebles calls a “treacherous” beach.

There, two paddle boarders were attempting to stabilize the man.

“He was found lying half in a tidal pool with a severely angulated foot with compound fractures,” Peebles said. “There were no ropes or anything like that. I think he was trying to do some free-climbing.”

With the man also showing signs of shock and hypothermia, responders called in more resources: a ladder and rescue truck for a potential high-angle rescue, along with an RCMP zodiac, which happened to be nearby.

In the end, the B.C. Ambulance Service called a medivac helicopter to transport the man to Victoria General Hospital.

While the group waited for the helicopter to arrive from Vancouver, they packaged him in a basket stretcher and carried him to a sandbar where the helicopter could land safely. He was off of the beach by 1 p.m.

Between paramedics, firefighters and flight crew, Peebles counted upwards of 18 people on the ground.

“The cost for that is … thousands and thousands for sure,” he said.

Falls of all kinds – whether from horseback, mountain bikes or rocks – spike this time of year, as more people are outdoors enjoying the weather and participating in recreational activities.

“Two weeks ago I was up on Mount Tolmie,” he said. “We (responded to) three guys smoking doobies up there, jumping from rock to rock, and (one guy) broke his leg.

“The nicer the weather, the more people are outside having fun in the outdoors.”

nnorth@saanichnews.com